Hate endings. Love beginnings. As a sentimental and sappy soul, I need both. Maybe that’s why I love teaching so much, for it is full of goodbyes and hellos. And though I am sad that semester one has come to an end, I am eager to dive into semester two, excited to begin this next leg of our journey.
In the space between, I have spent some time reflecting, seeking my next better. And though my head is still buzzing with too many ideas, here are some glimpses into a few of my next “do better’s.”
A Better Mantra
Last semester, our daily mantra was our Mindset Mantra.
This semester, needing not only to mix it up a bit but also to change our focus, I have come up with our “Chasing-Better Chant.” I have been looking for a way to make “Do. Reflect. Do Better.” a more intentional focus in 211. It serves as the foundation for my learning, and I want it to be the same foundational element in my students’ learning. So, we will chant this each day, three successive times, each time getting faster. Yes, the kids will perhaps find it awkward at first, but they found the Mindset Mantra the same in the beginning, too. And it became a powerful, daily part of experience together. Of course, it will go beyond the chant. It will also become our approach for reflection. What did you DO? REFLECT on what you learned. How will you DO BETTER next time?
Well, a different type of standard, anyway. We have our Focus Standards, our learning standards. And they will continue to be at the center of our work, our learning. But there is another set of standards that may be just as important. Until now they have lived in my head, quiet, private guides to how I interact with my kids, but I am now going to make them public, for I believe that when things are public, there is a degree of accountability. By making them public (posting them around the room) and asking my kids to hold me accountable, I believe I am setting the stage for attending to the standards that will not only make me a better teacher but also create a better experience for my kids.
I also created feedback cards for the kids. I want them to let me know how I am doing. I especially want to know if I am not delivering on my offer. I really do want them to feel this way. And the only way I will know is if they tell me.
A Better Approach to Discovering the Power of Voice
It is not always easy to find ways to make things relevant or meaningful for kids. I have succeeded. I have failed. And though I will no doubt continue to do both as I learn, here is a possible “better” for helping my kids find the power of their own voices. As I shared recently, here is one of my sincere hopes that I shared with my kids in my letter to them at the beginning of the year.
I hope you discover the unique power of your voice. Language is power, a power available to all. It is not reserved for a select few. You have language, which means you have power. I will help you find your way, but it begins with your believing that you have power. I so hope you make this important discovery this year.
On a long bike ride yesterday (some of my very best thinking time), I discovered an idea. For our work with argument and persuasion, I came up with “Project Be A Voice.” I will share more specifics about this in the days and weeks to come, but for now I simply wanted to come up with a poster to create some anticipation and maybe generate some enthusiasm among the kids. The poster below is on my door and on my front board. I want my kids to be voices. In truth, I believe they already are. Now they just have to believe it.
Lots a betters around the bend. So excited to get moving with my kiddos. It’s a perfect time to chase better, to do better.
Along today’s trail we will…
…begin with Smiles and Frowns.
…discuss my new “betters”
…reflect on Passion Paper experience as our first chance to apply our Do-Reflect-Do Better approach to learning.
…make some individual decisions about this semester’s Passion Paper
…do our Chant.
…end with a Sappy Sy Rhyme.
Happy Monday, all. Note on *Day 90. I did not realize that our conference days back in November counted as 2 of our 180 school days, so my count was off. Will happen again in March.
Do. Reflect. Do Better.